I’ve never been a big Beyonce fan. I’ve written about it on this blog before … But her talent and influence are undeniable.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 2 weeks, you know Beyonce released a controversial new song and video on February 6th. Then she performed the same new controversial song during the Super Bowl on February 7th while wearing equally controversial costumes.
The title of the song is Formation.
The lyrics of the song are no less racy than most of Beyonce’s recent work. She’s not singing for kids anymore. She’s singing sho-nuff grown folk lyrics … and even I’m not grown enough to sing some of those words in front of my momma. If anyone’s been really paying attention to her words, this song shouldn’t be too surprising.
The visual imagery in the video and during her Super Bowl performance are a big departure for her. The visuals are in-your-face pro-Black. She’s calling out police brutality and injustice. She’s celebrating her culture and history. She’s boldly declaring where she stands on the #BlackLivesMatter support spectrum.
Or is she?
Almost immediately, there were people who said the visual imagery wasn’t enough. That when you combine the lyrics with the imagery, it was just more of the same … And I agreed with them. The mismatch of the images and the words left me confused about her real intent. I needed to figure it out. I needed to know if the biggest superstar in the world was using her platform to make a bold socio-political statement… or nah.
I still don’t know the answer. And in typical fashion, Beyonce isn’t outright saying. I’ve given up trying to figure it out.
What I learned through my brief obsession with this topic is that Beyonce has been publicly and privately supporting many of the causes focused on helping disenfranchised people of color for many years. I also learned that the writer of this new controversial song is very young and unknown, which is impressive and telling considering Beyonce could work with anyone she wanted.
So what else does she need to say? She’s making her position clear through her actions and her financial support … I’d really love for her to come right out and say these things. However, with so much backlash over the video and performance, I can only imagine what would happen if she did. I can understand why she would keep her statements brief in order to maintain the money that allows her to do all these other things.
In my typical fashion, I started thinking about the practical management lessons in this situation.
The lesson is simple … As leaders, it is time to get in Formation.
It is time to use our influence to send clear messages about the things that are important. It is time to use our resources to support the things that are important. It is time to actively create opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise get them without our help.
I’m not talking about throwing all caution to the wind to promote purely personal agendas … I’m talking about holding our organizations accountable for and moving them toward walking the talk on the issues they say they care about.
- Get in Formation on fair, competitive compensation … Make the updates and changes necessary on your pay plans to position your organization to attract, retain and demonstrate the value placed on talent.
- Get in Formation on comprehensive, affordable benefits … Find an ACA compliant plan that provides complete coverage and doesn’t put you employees at risk of hardship.
- Get in Formation on a path to promotion with commitment to development … Seek to help your employees to learn and improve so they can move up in the organization and broaden their influence.
- Get in Formation on diversity and inclusion … Hire deliberately to make your organization a reflection of the world at large so you are in the best position possible to compete nationally and globally.
No more speaking about it. It’s time for our words to stop and actions to speak.
It’s time to get in Formation. And slay … Slay like Beyonce, right where you are.